When Hollywood remakes films or remakes the remake which was originally a remake of another remake, a lot of times, the film is a disaster. However, once in a while, Hollywood gets it right. With the right director, the right cast and a polished enough script, recycled material can actually be something refreshing and fun. The Magnificent Seven is a perfect case study. Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai from 1954 was the basis for the 1960 western The Magnificent Seven and Antoine Fuqua has created the latest incarnation of the classic story. Fuqua, a native of Pittsburgh has directed some fantastic films. In fact, I would be hard pressed to come up with a single bad film of his. Some I like more than others, but he knows how to make an entertaining film and he has shown a knack to be able to direct a wide array of genres.
The Magnificent Seven stars Denzel Washington as Chisolm, a tired and grizzled, peace officer who travels the old west serving warrants for arrest. He meets Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), a recently widowed woman who enlists his help to save her town from the lowlife Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). Chisolm agrees and sets out to find the six others to help him. Chris Pratt is the gambler who is also a crack shot, named Josh Faraday. Ethan Hawke is the sharpshooter, Goodnight Robicheaux, a battle scarred vet from the Civil War who still thinks Death is breathing down his neck. Robicheaux travels with his friend, Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), deadly with knives and guns. The outlaw, Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Ruffo) agrees to help in exchange for a pass from Chisolm. Martin Sensmeier plays Red Harvest, a proud Native American warrior that is good with knives, arrows and guns. Vincent D’Onofrio is the squeaky voiced tracker, Jack Horne, a man who has lost his family but has since found the Lord.
These are not perfect people, but they have enough compassion to understand the plight of this widow and her town. Of course, they will pay them, but it is really not that much, at the end of the day. Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto’s script does enough for these characters that I was able to connect and understand them. I believed their motivation and believed they would help. However, I would have loved to had some more depth to these characters. There are back stories which are hinted at, but never really explained. But overall, the actors do a fine job in selling their abilities. Actually, the acting is excellent. Haley Bennett has a supporting role but does a good job with her limited screen time and Peter Sarsgaard is quite malevolent as Bartholomew Bogue. He is a slimy, cold blooded killing, thug that looks like he fell into a barrel of patchouli oil. When he is on screen he commands it, the problem is he is not in the film that much, which is too bad.
What works is the chemistry of the misfits known as The Magnificent Seven. Fuqua is not striving for anything new or groundbreaking. He keeps the story pretty simple but has fun doing so. The Magnificent Seven bristles with energy and style and above all humor. There are some funny bits that work quite well and I enjoyed James Horner (RIP) and Simon Franglen’s score. Horner, who was tragically killed while piloting one of his own WW2 vintage planes in 2015, had composed about half of the score before his death. His orchestrator, Simon Franglen finished it up and the score seems right at home with the story.
The Magnificent Seven is not going to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. It has its clichés and routines that you will see coming. But this film knows what it wants to do; entertain. It does that and more. This is a fun and exciting film with terrific action sequences with very little CGI effects. Everything is pretty much old school practicality and it makes this Magnificent Seven worth the ride.
The Magnificent Seven – **** out of 5
The Magnificent Seven – Rated PG-13 for violence, some gore, some language, adult situations.
The Magnificent Seven – Run Time is 133 minutes.
The Magnificent Seven is now playing in theaters. Check you local listings for times and locations.